1990s music

1999

Posted on Updated on

At the close of the 90s, aged 20, I left New Plymouth, the large rural town in Taranaki province, where I grew up.

I moved to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, where I’d been born and where my 19th century pakeha settler ancestors had lived.

My second album, The Marion Flow reflected this journey. It showed a musical and lyrical evolution beyond my debut Scratched Surface.

(part 1, Taranaki).

The Marion Flow

Electric and acoustic songs, spoken word and instrumentals – an almost-recognised New Zealand classic (19992001)

It’s lo-fi, organic and about as eclectic as one could manage. Kind of reminds me of Nick Cave if he had grown up in Timaru. No pretentious American accents or catch phrase choruses, just a bunch of people making music. A little beauty!” – NZ Musician, August/September 2002

Paul Winstanley, recording The Marion Flow (1999)

Paul Winstanley played bass on and engineered the recording sessions, which were hosted by Brian Wafer.

The “hit single” Banana Wizard was released on a compilation of Taranaki music and had some student radio airplay around the country… about the extent of my commercial success to date.

I was also opening my ears and mind to more experimental sounds, and moving beyond conventional pop song structures.

At the same sessions we recorded free improvisations, which Paul later overdubbed and rearranged into

dAdApApA: Waiting for the Drummer

Taranaki improvised rock/noise deconstruction with sputtering synth, air-sucking turntables, didgeridoo and sundry toys providing layers of surreal abstraction (1999)

“after recording tracks for The Marion Flow at Wafer HQ in New Plymouth, an ad hoc group of associated locals assembled to record… the only rock references here come from the guitars… throw in some spoken word and a special guest appearance by N.P. record mogul Brian Wafer on vacuum cleaner and the dAdApApA nova had blazed and fizzled in the blink of an eye” – Eden Gully

& then I got to the capital city, and was suddenly a small fish in a bigger pond…

Part 2, Wellington

Dave Edwards, at Bar Bodega, Wellington NZ, 1999

Here’s what I sounded like around the time I arrived in Wellington – this solo postpunk set at Bar Bodega, opening for Chris Knox, was preserved (in lo-fi, a 90s aesthetic):

Live 1999

[send us your review]

But apart from songs I also fell under the influence of the burgeoning avant garde and free improv scene in Wellington.

This was centred around a venue called the Space (later Fred’s and then the Pyramid Club)… the dissonant flipside of the more popular smooth Pasifika/jazz sound the city became known for (Fat Freddy’s Drop et al).

Although way out of my depth technically, I met up with improvising percussionist Simon O’Rorke, and jazz-trained players including Blair Latham and Jeff Henderson to make

in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway

Free (in both senses) jazz from Wellington, Aotearoa (1999)

[send us your review]

Click here for more detail on the free improv scene in New Zealand

The Wellington jazz sound informed the second half of The Marion Flow, recorded over the next two years

Further Listening

For an overview of my early period, try

1997-2005

Read the rest of this entry »

Spotify playlist – fiffdimension & friends

Posted on Updated on

Here’s my first Spotify playlist… a mix of my own tracks and by other artists who I’ve had the privilege to meet and be inspired by, in several cases played gigs alongside and/or collaborated with.

Thank you all for the journey! And some great music here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Spotify playlist – fiffdimension / NZ underground

Posted on Updated on

A playlist of music by myself and fellow travellers I’ve met along the way.

It includes the Gleefully Unknown: 1997-2005, Fame & Oblivion: 2005-2012, Other Islands: 2012-2018, and Live 2019 albums,

and tracks by Chris Knox, Peter Jefferies, Jeff Henderson, Orchestra of Spheres, Bond Street Bridge, Alastair Galbraith, Sticky Filth, Leila Adu, Jack Body, Gareth Farr, Gamelan Padhang Moncar, and many more.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Marion Flow (part 1, Taranaki 1999)

Posted on Updated on

It’s lo-fi, organic and about as eclectic as one could manage. Kind of reminds me of Nick Cave if he had grown up in Timaru. No pretentious American accents or catch phrase choruses, just a bunch of people making music. A little beauty!” – NZ Musician, August/September 2002

Produced by Paul Winstanley, & featuring Steve Duffels, the Digitator, the Dadapapa Magickclone Orchestra and more. Recorded at the TFC Lounge, New Plymouth, 1999 – with special thanks to Brian Wafer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Marion Flow is a pre-millennial fusion of warm acoustic pop, spoken word and postpunk discord.. An almost-acknowledged New Zealand classic from Taranaki – of its time (the ’90s!) yet timeless.

In 1999, aged 20, I left New Plymouth, a large rural town, where I grew up, and moved to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, where I was born. The Marion Flow reflects this journey, geographically, sonically and spiritually.

The Marion Flow was originally a longer album spanning recordings from New Plymouth in 1999 and Wellington in 2001. I’ve now reissued the two halves separately – to emphasise the sense of time and place, and stylistic evolution, and to re-present each more concisely for the short-attention-span 21st century.

This page is for the 1999 New Plymouth sessions;

Further listening

Read the rest of this entry »

Cafes in Conversation

Posted on Updated on

4th May 2019 at Wairarapa TV May Music Marathon

I wrote this in 1999, after moving to Wellington. I was at an open mic night, at an upstairs bar in Cuba Mall that no longer exists, waiting for my turn to play. I had to wait a while – hence a lot of lyrics.

It was my attempt at a beat poet vibe, reflecting my move to the capital city and discovery of a local jazz scene. Read the rest of this entry »

Live 1999

Video Posted on Updated on

by Dave Edwards – electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, vocal

Live at Bar Bodega, Wellington, New Zealand, June 1999.

I was the opening act for Chris Knox, so this is obviously dedicated to him.

Chris Knox

Read the rest of this entry »

The Marion Flow, March 2019

Posted on Updated on

Since last year I’ve been getting back into playing solo acoustic. Here’s a 6 March 2019 version of ‘the Marion Flow‘:

Originally recorded in New Plymouth in 1999, it became the title track of my second album.

The 1999 recording had quite a different vibe – spoken word delivery, electric guitars panned left & right, and Paul Winstanley playing a cymbal through a pitch shifter, turning it into a deep sea gong sound.

On other occasions it became a rock riff, based around just an E note and its octave.

I was surrounded by wider & weirder music too. I moved to Wellington and found a  kiwi avant-garde scene with free jazz, noise, and theatre gallore. We eventually finished The Marion Flow album in 2001, after recording sessions at Thistle Hall.

The lyrics are some of my favourite. They were scribbled in a notebook sometime in the late 90s. I was digesting the influence of literary modernism (eg lines like ‘yea take in that wake’ a shout out to James Joyce, using nouns as verbs and vice versa, and other general flouting of grammatical rules).

Taranaki and its coastlines inspired much of the atmosphere.

Read the rest of this entry »

Scratched Surface 20th anniversary

Posted on Updated on

“Worth searching out coz this lo-fi singer/songwriter oddball has a unique take on the genre. He’s pissed off, a tad fucked up (as usual), but not full of lugubrious self-pity (as unusual) and is happy to get raucous & obnoxious in just the right kinda way.”Chris Knox

In December 1998 I self-released my debut album . Scratched Surface was a teenage no-budget lo-fi postpunk pakeha singer-songwriter album from the Taranaki, Aotearoa underground, recorded on analogue reel-to-reel tape.

I burned it on CDR and sent out copies to anyone who would listen. It was the opening salvo in a recording career that’s gone on for over 20 years now, occasionally dismissed, largely ignored, gloriously unsuccessful. A career nonetheless; I’ve made an album most years since.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

20 years on I’m still creating – here’s some of what I’ve done more recently:

Read the rest of this entry »

Scratched Surface

Posted on Updated on

“Worth searching out coz this lo-fi singer/songwriter oddball has a unique take on the genre. He’s pissed off, a tad fucked up (as usual), but not full of lugubrious self-pity (as unusual) and is happy to get raucous & obnoxious in just the right kinda way.”Chris Knox

The debut album from fiffdimension – a genuine 1990s teenage no-budget lo-fi post-punk singer-songwriter artifact from the Taranaki, New Zealand underground, recorded on analogue reel-to-reel tape.

Online reissue includes download-only bonus tracks and previously unreleased material.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From these folk/punk beginnings my style evolved into the more complex/impressionistic/visionary approach of The Marion Flow, Mantis Shaped and Worrying, and Loose Autumn MoansThese combined songwriting with an interest in free jazz and poetic modernism that sunk my commercial chances.  I stopped writing words entirely with The Winter and Ascension Band, and eventually lived abroad in Australia and Asia and reinvented myself again as Dave Black.

As of 2015 I’m back in NZ where my latest project is Ngumbang, which comes full circle – weaving together these various strands, in collaboration with Emit Snake-Beings who was one of my early influences!

in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway (part 1, 1999)

Posted on Updated on

978-1-877448-59-1A few years ago I wrote a chapter of Jazz Aotearoa, a book about New Zealand jazz music history, discussing the free improvisation and avant-garde jazz scene in Wellington at the turn of the millennium.

in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway is a collection of improvised Simon O'Rorkeinstrumental music with some of the musicians in that scene, from the point of view of my own attempts as an untrained outsider to fit in with these advanced jazz players – including Jeff Henderson, Blair Latham , Paul Winstanley, Dan Beban, Julie Bevan and more.

It was recorded in Wellington in two halves, in 1999

Simon O’Rorke – percussion

Paul Winstanley – synth bass
Blair Latham – alto sax
Jeff Henderson – clarinet
Bridget Kelly – tenor sax
Dan Beban – electric guitar
Dave Edwards – electric and acoustic guitars

and 2014, to show an evolution.

Simon O’Rorke – synthesisers

Blair Latham –  bass clarinet
Julie Bevan – acoustic guitar
Michael Hall – alto sax
Chris Prosser – violin
Dave Edwards – bass, electronics, tenor sax

Free improvisation is a genre of music with a self-explanatory name.  Nothing is planned in advance, and the performers create the music on the spot by responding to what the others are doing in that moment. Read the rest of this entry »